A Beatrice man entered not guilty pleas on Thursday to sexually assaulting a child earlier this year.

Zachary A. Askew, 25, pleaded not guilty to two charges, first-degree sexual assault of a child and third-degree sexual assault of a child.

The first-degree sexual assault of a child charge is a class 1B felony that carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison, with a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence. Third-degree sexual assault of a child is a class 3A felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

District Court Judge Julie Smith also rejected a request from Askew’s attorney, Lee Timan, to allow him contact with specified children under 16 years old. Timan said Askew is engaged to a woman with children, and due to the restriction, the two have to live in separate houses, and the alleged victim in the case is not one of those children.

Before denying the request Judge Smith said her concern is for the children.

“When I look at the allegations in this case, the allegations relate to the child of the defendant's former live-in girlfriend,” she said. “I do have concerns with the defendant living in the same house with minors and having contact with minors.”

Askew was arrested in May after a woman told police that her 8-year-old daughter said that Askew had been inappropriately touching her.

He also allegedly forced the girl to touch him while all three were sleeping in the same bed.

The victim said she told Askew to stop, and he eventually did.

The victim told her mother, who questioned Askew before contacting police. Askew denied touching the victim, court documents state.

The victim was taken to the child advocacy center where a forensic interview was conducted and she disclosed the details of the assault. Askew was then interviewed, and stated he did not recall sexually assaulting the girl.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for March 1 in the case.

  

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